Salt to the Sea
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
A tribute to the people of Lithuania, Poland, and East Prussia, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.
* A #1 New York Times Bestseller
* An International Bestseller
* A Carnegie Medal Nominee
AUTHOR VIDEO FOR “SALT TO THE SEA”
This discussion guide for Salt to the Sea was created by Dr. Rose Brock, an assistant professor in the Library Science Department in the College of Education at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Brock holds a Ph.D. in Library Science, specializing in children’s and young adult literature.
A tremendous online collection of information, documentation, and artifacts.The museum and curator provided indispensable assistance in my research for Salt to the Sea. http://www.wilhelmgustloffmuseum.com/
Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff by Cathryn J. Prince
One of my research sources and a brilliant non-fiction companion for Salt to the Sea.
More info HERE
No Home to Go To: The Story of Baltic Displaced Persons, 1944-1952
This virtual exhibition chronicles the history of WWII and its aftermath through the personal accounts and memorabilia of refugees from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
TED Ed Lesson: What Does it Mean to Be a Refugee?
Five minute video, discussion questions, and resources for further study of refugees and displacement.
“The Damned Don’t Drown: The Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff”
by A.V. Sellwood
“The Cruelest Night: The Untold Story of One of the Greatest Maritime Tragedies of World War II.”
by Christopher Dobson, John Miller, and Ronald Payne
“The M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff: Maiden Voyage”
by Edward Petruskevich
Click HERE to preview
“Sinking the Gustloff: A Tragedy Exiled from Memory”
A documentary film by Marcus Kolga for Realworld Pictures
Praise for SALT TO THE SEA:
“Compelling for both adult and teenage readers. Once again, Ruta Sepetys
acts as champion of the interstitial people so often ignored —
whole populations lost in the cracks of history.”
– The New York Times Book Review
“A superlative novel in four voices. Masterly crafted.”
– The Wall Street Journal
“Sepetys is a master of historical fiction…she once again anchors a panoramic view of
epic tragedy in perspectives that feel deeply textured and immediate.”
– Entertainment Weekly
“Ruta Sepetys’s riveting novel is a haunting reminder of an almost-forgotten
disaster and the resilience of the human spirit.
– The Washington Post
“The forgotten tragedy that was six times deadlier than the Titanic.”
“Observations of war and loss, human cruelty, and hatred are unflinching.
But through the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage,
and sacrifice. Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys’s exploration of this
little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.”
-School Library Journal (starred review)
“Sepetys delivers another knockout historical novel…she excels in shining light
on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength
and resilience in the face of war and cruelty.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An impeccably researched story of hardship and survival in Eastern Europe. In many ways, the greatest punishment—and the greatest of all tragedies—is to be forgotten.
This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent.”
– Booklist (starred review)
“Sepetys combines research with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. The short chapters and slowly revealed backstories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.
Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“The stories of four young adults—each haunted by a secret—converge in this heartbreaking illumination of a little-known WWII tragedy. Sepetys’s scene-setting is impeccable; the penetrating cold of the journey is palpable, and she excels at conveying the scope of the losses while giving them a human face. This elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen, often unsettling insights into humans’ counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility.”
– The Horn Book
“[H]aunting, heartbreaking, hopeful and altogether gorgeous…one of the best young-adult novels to appear in a very long time.”
— Salt Lake Tribune
“This is historical fiction (not just YA historical fiction) at its very, very best.”
– The Globe and Mail
“Ruta Sepetys is a master of historical fiction. In Salt to the Sea the hard truths of her herculean research are tempered with effortless, intimate storytelling, as her warm and human characters breathe new life into one of the world’s most terrible and neglected tragedies.”
– Elizabeth Wein, Printz Honor Author of Code Name Verity
The bond readers develop with the characters as they suffer their fates is shocking, tragic, and uplifting. There is an accessibility that only Sepetys can do so well, targeting both young adults and adults with a tale rich in detail. Images will stay with any reader for a lifetime.”
– Alicia Abdul, Librarian, Albany High School
“Masterful. Stunning. Ruta broke my heart yesterday and let that story in. I am forever changed.”
– Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
“Never have I felt so transported to a time or place than when reading Salt to the Sea.
Sepetys ensures that the Wilhelm Gustloff will no longer remain in the shadowy depths
of the Baltic Sea. Hauntingly real.”
– Clara Martin, LeMuria Bookstore
“Sepetys’ perceptive writing lays bare the physical and incorporeal needs of humanity
during one of the most devastating moments in history.”
– Mary Alice Garber, Politics and Prose
“Salt to the Sea is all that I hoped for from Ruta Sepetys, and more.
A beautifully crafted novel…that readers of all ages who enjoy historical fiction will appreciate. I’m going to recommend it to those who liked All the Light We Cannot See.”
– Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company
SALT TO THE SEA
A #1 New York Times Bestseller
An International Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book
A Carnegie Medal Nominee
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
An Amazon Best Book of 2016
Goodreads Finalist Best YA Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2016
A Junior Library Guild Book Pick
A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
#1 “Library Reads” Selection
#1 Indie Next List Selection
Recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency
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